Rules Index

Chapter 9: Playing the Game / General Rules / Specific Checks

Attack Rolls

Source Core Rulebook pg. 446 1.1
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Melee attack rolls use Strength as their ability modifier by default. If you’re using a weapon or attack with the finesse trait, then you can use your Dexterity modifier instead.

Melee attack roll result = d20 roll + Strength modifier (or optionally Dexterity modifier for a finesse weapon) + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Ranged attack rolls use Dexterity as their ability modifier.

Ranged attack roll result = d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

When attacking with a weapon, whether melee or ranged, you add your proficiency bonus for the weapon you’re using. Your class determines your proficiency rank for various weapons. Sometimes, you’ll have different proficiency ranks for different weapons. For instance, at 5th level, a fighter gains the weapon mastery class feature, which grants master proficiency with the simple and martial weapons of one weapon group, expert proficiency with advanced weapons of that group and other simple and martial weapons, and trained proficiency in all other advanced weapons.

The bonuses you might apply to attack rolls can come from a variety of sources. Circumstance bonuses can come from the aid of an ally or a beneficial situation. Status bonuses are typically granted by spells and other magical aids. The item bonus to attack rolls comes from magic weapons—notably, a weapon’s potency rune.

Penalties to attack rolls come from situations and effects as well. Circumstance penalties come from risky tactics or detrimental circumstances, status penalties come from spells and magic working against you, and item penalties occur when you use a shoddy item (page 273). When making attack rolls, two main types of untyped penalties are likely to apply. The first is the multiple attack penalty, and the second is the range penalty. The first applies anytime you make more than one attack action during the course of your turn, and the other applies only with ranged or thrown weapons. Both are described below.

Multiple Attack Penalty

Source Core Rulebook pg. 446 1.1
The more attacks you make beyond your first in a single turn, the less accurate you become, represented by the multiple attack penalty. The second time you use an attack action during your turn, you take a –5 penalty to your attack roll. The third time you attack, and on any subsequent attacks, you take a –10 penalty to your attack roll. Every check that has the attack trait counts toward your multiple attack penalty, including Strikes, spell attack rolls, certain skill actions like Shove, and many others.

Some weapons and abilities reduce multiple attack penalties, such as agile weapons, which reduce these penalties to –4 on the second attack or –8 on further attacks.

Always calculate your multiple attack penalty for the weapon you’re using on that attack. For example, let’s say you’re wielding a longsword in one hand and a shortsword (which has the agile trait) in your other hand, and you are going to make three Strikes with these weapons during the course of your turn. The first Strike you make during your turn has no penalty, no matter what weapon you are using. The second Strike will take either a –5 penalty if you use the longsword or a –4 penalty if you use the shortsword. Just like the second attack, the penalty for your third attack is based on which weapon you’re using for that particular Strike. It would be a –10 penalty with the longsword and a –8 penalty with the shortsword, no matter what weapon you used for your previous Strikes.

The multiple attack penalty applies only during your turn, so you don’t have to keep track of it if you can perform an Attack of Opportunity or a similar reaction that lets you make a Strike on someone else’s turn.

Range Penalty

Source Core Rulebook pg. 446 1.1
Ranged and thrown weapons each have a listed range increment, and attacks with them grow less accurate against targets farther away (range and range increments are covered in depth on page 279). As long as your target is at or within the listed range increment, also called the first range increment, you take no penalty to the attack roll. If you’re attacking beyond that range increment, you take a –2 penalty for each additional increment beyond the first. You can attempt to attack with a ranged weapon or thrown weapon up to six range increments away, but the farther away you are, the harder it is to hit your target.

For example, the range increment of a crossbow is 120 feet. If you are shooting at a target no farther away than that distance, you take no penalty due to range. If they’re beyond 120 feet but no more than 240 feet away, you take a –2 penalty due to range. If they’re beyond 240 feet but no more than 360 feet away, you take a –4 penalty due to range, and so on, until you reach the last range increment: beyond 600 feet but no more than 720 feet away, where you take a –10 penalty due to range.

Armor Class

Source Core Rulebook pg. 447 1.1
Attack rolls are compared to a special difficulty class called an Armor Class (AC), which measures how hard it is for your foes to hit you with Strikes and other attack actions. Just like for any other check and DC, the result of an attack roll must meet or exceed your AC to be successful, which allows your foe to deal damage to you.

Armor Class is calculated using the following formula.

Armor Class = 10 + Dexterity modifier (up to your armor’s Dex Cap) + proficiency bonus + armor’s item bonus to AC + other bonuses + penalties

Use the proficiency bonus for the category (light, medium, or heavy) or the specific type of armor you’re wearing. If you’re not wearing armor, use your proficiency in unarmored defense.

Armor Class can benefit from bonuses with a variety of sources, much like attack rolls. Armor itself grants an item bonus, so other item bonuses usually won’t apply to your AC, but magic armor can increase the item bonus granted by your armor.

Penalties to AC come from situations and effects in much the same way bonuses do. Circumstance penalties come from unfavorable situations, and status penalties come from effects that impede your abilities or from broken armor. You take an item penalty when you wear shoddy armor.